The building of walls for protection and security is not a recent phenomenon. In ancient times, the Romans and Chinese had walls and fortifications to keep the invaders out. Today the reasons for building walls are more for other reasons than for the security of one’s borders.
In an effort to keep themselves free from spiritual and moral contamination, the Jews had built a dividing wall in their sacred temple. In his The Jewish War, the Jewish historian Josephus describes the wall separating the Court of the Gentiles from the inner courts of the temple:
When you go through these cloisters, to the second temple, there was a partition made of stone all around … declaring the law of purity, some in Greek and some in Roman letters, that “no foreigner should go within that Sanctuary …”
In fact, in the last century archaeologists discovered two stone inscriptions – warning signs in Greek that once stood in the wall of separation which read, “No foreigner may enter within the barrier and enclosure round the temple. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”
Though this wall was meant to preserve the Jewish people from moral and spiritual corruption, it soon became a divider that alienated the Gentiles, who were meant to receive God’s blessing through the Jewish nation (Gen. 12:2, 3; 26:4). The Law and the sacrificial system had marked God’s path of holy living for the Jews. Yet Gentiles stood outside the gate, aliens to the promises, foreigners to the covenants, and dejected outcasts from the knowledge of God. All of that changed when Christ tore down the wall and began building a new temple (Eph. 2:14; 21-22). What a glorious truth! Christ alone is peace personified. In Christ, every believer shares a common union of peace with each other: whether Jew or Gentile; male or female; black, white, Asian, or Hispanic; rich or poor; educated or uneducated; strong or weak; low or high caste. The racial, ethnic, political, social, and economic dividers that cause so much conflict in our world fade into oblivion when the Son of God brings spiritual peace and reconciliation.
Having known this truth, are you living like it? Are you building on the foundation Christ has laid? Are you doing the hard things, like making peace with people with whom you’ve had conflicts, providing for the needs of people you may not know, or nourishing the faith of people you may not particularly like? Are you building the old “dividing wall” again which Christ had demolished? No, we must learn to live in harmony and love with other believers, which includes learning to like the unlikeable and even love the unlovable (Eph. 5:1, 2)
Rev. Mark Tay